Jesus

Page author: Luke Burns

This page published on: 01/01/2020

Last modified: 05/03/2020

The founding figure of Christianity, Jesus was a Jewish mircle-worker and teacher who proclaimed a divine message in the 1st century CE.

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Jesus was born sometime near the beginning of the common era, around the year 4CE, in a region known as Galilee (modern Israel).

Before he was born, an angel appeared to his mother and told her that she would soon give birth to a son, and that the child would be a gift from God. Since Mary was not yet married to her fiancé. Joseph, this pregnancy would have been considered suspicious at best. Joseph was quite worried about this and considered leaving Mary, but the angel appeared to him in a dream, and reassured him that this was not an ordinary pregnancy; Mary had remained faithful to him.

In the period when Jesus was about to be born, a national census required Mary and Joseph to leave their home of Nazareth and return to Joseph’s place of birth, Bethlehem. On their arrival, having nowhere to stay for the night, they found shelter in an animal stable, and there Jesus was born.

When the local ruler, King Herod, heard about the birth of a man who was prophesied to lead the Jewish people, he was very worried about his position as king. He wanted to make sure there was no chance that he might be overthrown, so he ordered all the male infants in the area to be killed. Joseph, however, was warned by an angel in a dream and the young family escaped to safety in Egypt.

The family later returned to their hometown of Nazareth when it was safe. Much of Jesus’s early life is unknown, although there are some stories about him visiting and debating with rabbis and priests in the Synagogue.

Much later in life, when Jesus was around the age of 30, he met with a preacher by the name of John the Baptist. John recognised the importance of Jesus straight away, and baptised him in the water of the river Jordan. Feeling transformed by this experience, Jesus was compelled to go into the wilderness so that he and his faith in God could be tested.

While in the desert he fasted for 40 days, and was tempted by the devil to save himself in a variety of ways. Each time, Jesus used his knowledge of scripture and faith in God to rebuke the temptation, and eventually he was visited by angels who helped him.

On his return to civilisation, Jesus learned that John had been executed by the Roman authorities. He began to preach about the coming of God’s kingdom, encouraging people to repent for their sins and adopt a faithful life, and gathered twelve men to be his close associates, or apostles.

He delivered several speeches that were recorded in the Gospels, and performed a number of miracles such as healing the sick and walking on water. These signs, combined with his knowledge and faith, inspired a large number of people to follow him, which troubled the political and religious authorities.

Jesus headed from the area of Galilee towards the city of Jerusalem; when he arrived, he continued to preach his message, and when he found traders and money changers in the main city temple he upturned their tables and expelled them, accusing them of making God’s house a ‘den of thieves’.

The religious and political elders were very concerned by this behaviour, and arranged for Jesus to be arrested by conspiring with one of his companions, Judas Iscariot. Jesus was aware of this conspiracy, and organised a meal with his apostles, which came to be known as the last supper. At this meal he prophesised his own betrayal and death, and encouraged the apostles to remember him by drinking wine and eating bread, which became the foundation of the Eucharist or holy communion in later Christianity.

Shortly after that, Jesus was arrested and put on trial for blasphemy by the religious elders. His case was passed to the high priest, then to the Roman authority, then to the King of Galilee, before Jesus was eventually returned to Jerusalem. The Roman authority, a man named Pontius Pilate, could see that there were no clear grounds for executing Jesus, and offered the public a choice between freeing him or another prisoner named Barabbas as it was a custom to release one prisoner at that time of year. The crowd overwhelmingly chose to release Barabbas, and, encouraged by the religious elders, insisted on the crucifixion of Jesus.

Jesus was led away and nailed to a cross, along with two other prisoners, at a place called Calvary. After his death, his body was taken down by a disciple named Joseph of Arimathea, wrapped in a shroud, and placed in a tomb. Three days later, the tomb is opened, and they discover that his body has disappeared.

Jesus later appeared to a number of his disciples, reaffirming his doctrines, encouraging them to spread his message, and confirming that he had risen to Heaven.

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